MSU vs. Texas A&M Preview
By: Hunter Richardson
Madison Square Garden, which has stood for decades as the most noteworthy and famous arena of all sports and music, will play host to the Championship Rounds of the 2K Sports Classic starting with the matchup of future SEC co-members.
The Dogs will go into Thursday’s matchup after gaining a victory against the South Alabama Jaguars last Saturday, 80-65. The victory, highlighted by Arnett Moultrie’s double-double of 28 points (career high) and 13 rebounds and big man Renardo Sidney’s absence (groin injury), was a bounce-back for State after suffering an upset loss at Humphrey Coliseum against the Akron Zips in the 2K Sports Classic. State will look to work on its faults and highlight its successes going into the battle under the bright lights in the “City That Never Sleeps.”
“We need to hustle more and get stronger,” Moultrie pointed out following the defeat to Akron. “We need to get more physical in the post. We also need to take better care of the ball and not make so many turnovers.”
Moultrie and the rest of the Maroon and White made sure that those problems were addressed and fixed before State’s final game before the New York trip against USA. Playing an up-tempo style similar to that of the Bulldogs summer European trip, Arnett was pleased with the performance against the athletic Sun Belt representatives.
“This is the way we are going to beat teams, that is our identity,” Moultrie said. “We played up-tempo during the summer and we wanted to bring that back.”
And if finding their rhythm isn’t exciting enough, the Bulldogs got freshmen Deville Smith back for the home contest and will have him for the games in NYC. Smith, who missed the opening games to the season for State, suffered from an illness that caused dizzy spells and slight memory loss.
“We’re glad to have Deville back,” said coach Rick Stansbury. “He changes the game. His pressure on the ball is what helped us today.”
It’s a good thing the Dogs seem to have things rolling in their favor as of late, because the Aggies will not prove to be such an easy foe. The future SEC members will prove to be State’s first true test of the season and could determine whether this Bulldog team is who a lot of Maroon and White faithful expect them to be.
The No. 19 Aggies will go into Thursday’s matchup one of the top shooting teams in the nation in this young season, ranked sixth in the nation in field goal percentage (61.0 percent). In their first two games, the Aggies have easily handled their opponents, defeating Liberty 81-59 and South University 83-58.
State, when at full-strength, can compete with any team in the NCAA. With Sidney and Smith both making the trip to NYC, the Dogs should go toe-to-toe with the Aggies and would not surprise anyone if they were to walk out with a win. Meanwhile, Friday night will bring either St. John’s or Arizona, two more powerhouse teams that would prove the Dog’s worth. Yet State, led by its captain Dee Bost, is not worried.
“I want to lead us to big places. It’s my responsibility to do that.”